Wires that Stick and Ticks that Bite!

They say problems come in threes; they are wrong. This POTA activation involved four problems and one of them was bad!

It was the end of the first week in May 2022 and XYL and I were on our first camping trip of the season with our old friend “Harvey”. Harvey is a 19ft KZ Sportsmen Classic travel trailer that has served us well for the last five camping seasons. It even made it out to the Alberta Rockies from our home in Ontario during our first year of trailer camping.

This time we were camped in the MacGregor Point Provincial Park on Lake Huron. MacGregor Point is a large park that is open year round for the hardy, dedicated campers who don’t mind Ontario’s frigid winters. MacGregor is also a POTA (Parks On The Air) entity #VE-0281 that I have activated on a previous camping trip. I wanted to activate it again this year for the fun of working CW pile-ups in the Great Outdoors.

Active Bear in Park!
A sign at the registration office warned us “Active Bear in Park”. There are an estimated 80,000 black bears in Ontario and I have never seen one of them! Perhaps this trip I thought, but no.

Problem #1
Things started to go wrong when I received an email advising that my first activation of the year had been uploaded to the POTA website. I had activated VE-0155 Black Creek Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. But a mistake had been made and I was credited with an activation of K-0155 Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska instead. Nobody had activated K-0155 before so I was mistakenly recorded as the very first activator – oops!

High Wire Act
Our campsite had some nice tall trees so I chose my “Shorty 80m End-Fed Half Wave” wire antenna for the activation. I wanted to erect it in an inverted-L configuration which meant getting a line up high in two trees. I checked my paracord collection and found I had only brought one 100ft length of paracord plus a few odd lengths that I tied together to make a second hauling line.

Problem #2
The antenna went up just fine at one end, but at the second tree, the knots in the paracord just would not slide over the branches no matter how hard I tried. My launch technique is to throw sand-filled balloons over high branches with a long length of very fine cord attached. The fine cord is then used to pull up a length of paracord which supports the antenna.

In the end the fine cord had to be used to pull up the antenna. Fortunately it is very strong. Lesson learned, I’ll be packing two 100ft lengths of paracord in future. 100ft seems to be about the right length to go over a branch up to 50ft high and form a loop for pulling up and lowering antenna wires.

Problem #3
I got on the air just after noon on a Monday morning and things were slow. Despite being spotted on the POTA website I made only 4 contacts before stopping to grab a sandwich. Then disaster struck. XYL had been bitten by a tick. She showed me the wound and I tried to pull the tick out with tweezers, but it was well burrowed into her shoulder. We drove to the nearest hospital where I left her to await treatment at the Emergency department.

Problem #4
I returned to the campsite to try and complete my POTA activation – successfully, fortunately. Then it was time to take down the antenna ready for another activation elsewhere the next day. But the antenna was firmly stuck in the trees despite my releasing both support ropes. In desperation I pulled out a 31ft telescoping fibreglass pole from my truck and used it to drag the wire out of the trees.

Activation log for MacGregor Point Provincial Park VE-0281

So, activation number 2 for 2022 was in the log but I could have done without all the aggravation that came with it! By the way, XYL received preventative treatment for a possible Lyme Disease infection and is doing just fine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s